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Metals of Metabolism: The Construction of Industrial Space and the Commodification of Early Modern Sápmi

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Abstract

In 1634, silver was found in inland Sápmi, on the present border between Norway and Sweden. The Swedish Crown had the ore extracted and a works for refining the silver was established in Silbojokk the following year. During the coming decades, two more works and many mines were opened in Sápmi. Sámi, Swedish and Dutch/German migrant workers were employed under restrictive conditions and in a harsh climate. A colonial discourse was developed, viewing Sápmi as the Americas of the Swedes and the Sámi as distinctly non-Swedish/non-European. Expectations of rapid economic and political gain created a metabolic relation to natural resources. The precious metals were exploited at whatever cost. This process caused a change in the perception of man, landscape and nature. Soon, the metal ores were exhausted and all the woods cut down. The three works studied here were all abandoned during the seventeenth century. The metabolic relation to the landscape and the process of commodifying nature prevailed and laid the foundation for later industrial expansion during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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... The interests in the northern fringe of Fennoscandia nonetheless consolidated and diversified in the early modern period when Lapland also begun to draw wider European attention. King Gustav Vasa claimed Lapland as part of the Swedish realm in the sixteenth century and the Swedish state expanded and tightened its control of the North in the following century, which also saw the first mining boom in Lapland after the discovery of silver ore in Nasafjäll (Nordin 2015). Although a poor and peripheral country, Sweden was aggressively expansive in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and briefly became a northern European great power with successful involvement in the Thirty Years War in the lands of the Holy Roman Empire on the Continent. ...
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This paper explores some of the theoretical issues surrounding the commodification of nature and its value as a research topic. In particular it examines the relationship between European colonization, the rise of capitalism and the increased use of abstract space. An appeal is also made for adding environmental history to the research agenda of historical archaeology. Case studies from South Africa and Virginia illustrate the manner in which abstract notions of space and the environment contributed to the commodification of nature. The Virginia case study from Jamestown Island provides a particularly vivid example of how micro- and macro-level environmental changes can be linked to important political and economic events.
Article
From the time of their earliest encounters with European explorers and missionaries, Native peoples of eastern North America acquired metal trinkets and utilitarian items and traded them to other aboriginal communities. As Native consumption of European products increased, their material culture repertoires shifted from ones made up exclusively of items produced from their own craft industries to ones substantially reconstituted by active appropriation, manipulation, and use of foreign goods. These material transformations took place during the same time that escalating historical, political, economic, and demographic influences (such as epidemics, new types of living arrangements, intergroup hostilities, new political alliances, missionization and conversion, changes in subsistence modes, etc.) disrupted Native systems. Ehrhardt's research addresses the early technological responses of one particular group, the Late Protohistoric Illinois Indians, to the availability of European-introduced metal objects. To do so, she applied a complementary suite of archaeometric methods to a sample of 806 copper-based metal artifacts excavated from securely dated domestic contexts at the Illiniwek Village Historic Site in Clark County, Missouri. Ehrhardt's scientific findings are integrated with observations from historical, archaeological, and archival research to place metal use by this group in a broad social context and to critique the acculturation perspective at other Contact Period sites. In revealing actual Native practice, from material selection and procurement to ultimate discard, the author challenges technocentric explanations for Native material and cultural change at contact. Copyright
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